Thursday, 26 June 2008

A Disgrace to Black People

I have a dream
That one day I'll be able to walk down the street
And be judged
Not by the skinnyness of my jeans
But by the content of my character.

So picture the scene
It's a muggy afternoon
Excited beads of sweat lie expectantly on my forehead
Like a romp of cheeky otters.
I'm cruising through Broomhall
A shady, shady part of Sheffield
Where Somalians are the current incumbents
And if you believe what the Daily Mail will have you believe
They're coming over here in their droves
With their suicide bombs
And their Sharia Law
And their sheepy hair
Stealing our highly-skilled, highly-paid cleaning jobs
Jumping to the front of the housing queue
And raping our women!
If you believe what the Daily Mail will have you believe
(I don't, but the texture of their hair does have a somewhat ovine consistency).
I'm feeling good about myself
How can I not?
I've got my techicoloured dreamcoat on,
The one I haggled down from twenty-five dondons to seventeen
on Brick Lane one Saturday afternoon.
The iPod's in
Belle and Sebastian are on
The French-tinged Scottish pop
Soundtracking what has largely been a nice day.
I'm walking through this squalid council estate
Punctuated with lego flats and low-rise squats
It's the school holidays
And in the distance
You can hear the klaxoning laughter
Of pre-pubescent kids
Swinging on ropes
Jumping from frames and
Racing around these urban monoliths
Like a barrell of cheeky monkeys
I don't even like kids
The ebullient insolence of youth
Long since battered out of me
(By sixteen years of unneccesary exams
At the behest of the National Curriculm.)
I'm party to the post-9/11 Apathetic Adolescents.
Generation Ket.
But it's hard not to feel the cockles warm
As the treble of trouble rings out from the playground.
A ball bounces right in front of me
And with elegance of a pseudo-Zidane
(Albeit pre-headbutt days)
I flick the ball up.

"Oi, mister give us our ball back, please?"
It's a bit like feeding time at the zoo
As I deliver the ball back to the Somalian simians
The chattering imps excited with fervour.
"Thank you...
Batty man."
I beg your pardon?
"Is dat girl's clothes?
Why are you wearing girl's clothes?
You're a disgrace to black people!"

I done a quick look around to make sure
Lenny Henry wasn't about
But he was nowhere to be seen
These obscene words aimed squarely at me.
He didn't just play the race card
He played the whole entire deck.
I took a deep breath.
I took a deep breath.
I took a deep breath.
Then I walked away
And I turned the other cheek.
Did I bollocks?
An eye for an eye, and the world would be blind?
Boy, your myopia meant that
You could never see the wood from the trees
And obviously you can't see me
And I intend to open your eyes, I promise.
So what constitutes being black these days?
Is it money, cash, hoes and escalades
Dazzling bling and ice on the wrists
Grab your dick, walk around with a limp always.
What is it to you today to be black?
My black skinny jeans uncongenial it seems
Well, what if I wear them half way down my arse?
Am I black enough for you now?
I'm good to go
You'll find me in the club?
No, you fucking won't.
I'll be at home listening to Dizzy, to Diddley, to Jimi, to Miles,
To Prince, To Duke, George Clinton, Ray Charles.
Or in the front room arguing with my friends
About when the sorry for slavery's gonna come
And the reasons why I'll have to do a Zeph and politely reject
My OBE at next year's New Year's Honours List.
Am I really a disgrace?
I might dress, walk, talk and act like Carlton Banks
But my arms could flail about eliptically
Oscillating wildy to the sound of Tom Jones
And I'd still be blacker than you'll ever be
Not that this is a competition
Your Uncle Tom here is just worried that there's a dearth positive role models
Beyond Brian Belo off of Big Brother
And various people that propagate
Sexism, materialism and homophobia
You've been caught up in your own self-fulfilling prophecy
For whom the curved bell tolls
And believe what the Daily Mail will have you believe
about yourself
When Linford said that he was more than just a lunchbox
He was talking on behalf of you and me
(Well maybe not me, contrary to rumours, my willy is minimal)
My master status is not as a black man`
It's as a bloody brilliant man
And if you disagree,
I'll go tell Wilberforce the deal is off.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


I'd love for my poems to be graceful and long-legged
Like how Sylvia or Byron or Zeph might have said it,
Straddling conventional wordsmithery,
A wizard of lyrical alchemy.
But I don't just want to stand on the shoulder of giants, fuck compliance!
I wanna stride over metaphors, slide over similes, enfranchise
Pour milky vowels into a bowl of crunchy consonants
(I'll have one from the top please, Carol)
and douse it all in alphabetti spaghetti.
Thinking outside the epistemological box?
What bloody box?
I want you to dance across the page,
Eloquent acrobatics and wordy somersaults
As I keep the Beat.
I've got a lot of time for those geezers,
The academical crowd-pleasers
Who put the best words in the best order,
But I've only got one voice,
and this is how it manifests itself.
Yes! I wanna permeate fickle ears
Yes! I wanna resonate past my expiration and into years beyond my existence.
But there's a perverse masochist stoically nestling inside of me
That wants my progeny to see
That a Paper Tiger cannot bite you.
You've got two ears
So I know you can hear,
But are you listening?